Damansara City Mall Review

A boring and deserted mall that just serves as a vessel for the supermarket. This place is only useful if you live or work next door.

Damansara City Mall, Bukit Damansara

Part of a burgeoning pocket neighbourhood in Damansara Heights, Damansara City Mall aims to provide “a safe and leisure-like environment, alongside with a superior gastronomical experience.” Yes, that typo was intentional and actually written on their official Facebook page.

Layout

DC Mall functions as a bridge between the Guocoland building and the other four adjacent high-rises. This squat corridor with five levels is a simple north-south passageway that serves as the main commercial hub for the Damansara City project. Multiple entrances branch off the mall, funnelling visitors directly to the other buildings. Entrance A is the main one, off of Jalan Damanlela. The most effort was put into this one, with a fountain, drop-off area and large mall signage out front.

Damansara City Mall, Bukit Damansara, main entrance

We came in through Entrance C, which faces a nice plaza across from the Sofitel Hotel. With a high-end condominium, office towers and a luxury hotel as its neighbours, there should be a good crowd of fancy people wandering its halls. When we went inside the mall, however, it was as if we were early morning mall-walkers arriving three hours before the shops open. It was dimly lit, and almost half of the restaurants part of the “superior gastronomical experience” were shuttered and closed. And this was mid-afternoon on a Sunday! Despite being open since 2016, we passed by a lot of empty shop fronts for lease.

Damansara City Mall, ground floor

The third floor compensates for all the dark lighting and is an open-air rooftop. I think this is only accessible by lifts and the staircase in the middle of level two. Aside from the three restaurants housed up there, there is a very pleasant walking circuit lined with potted flowers. You can do a loop and get views of the surrounding area.

Shopping

Mall directory, Damansara City Mall

Damansara City Mall directory current as of October 2019 (click to enlarge)

It quickly became evident that this is a “lifestyle” mall whose main intention was to provide services for the surrounding residents so they never have to leave Damansara Heights. A prison with marble floors, if you will. The tenants inside are things that non-residents have no need to travel all this way for: a Ben’s Independent Grocer, doctors, and coffee takeaways. Very curiously, there were two competing fertility clinics right next to each other. How does that even work? “The place next door couldn’t fix your dick, lah? Come in here (tee hee) instead!”

Damansara City Mall basement

The B.I.G supermarket is the main anchor and the only place where you’ll do some actual shopping. Ben’s is an expensive supermarket, I’ve found, that caters to expats and people who need bespoke deconstructed kombucha for fuck-knows-what. If you’re passing through and realise that you need to pick up some cereal, you’ll be paying a premium.

I don’t recall seeing even a single clothing, footwear, or gadget shop at Damansara City Mall. The shops that are present are incredibly functional, like pharmacies and convenience stores. These are places where you pop in and buy your feminine pads, deodorant, or candy bar and then GTFO. They do not make for “fun shopping” where you wander and peruse, and more importantly, spend money on shit you don’t really need! When you remove these key components that make up the majority of other shopping centres, what you end up with is a dead mall.

Damansara City Mall, second floor
Damansara City Mall, ground floor

Food

Damansara City Mall basement

Inside the Ben’s is the standard Shucked oyster bar that is present in all B.I.G’s, as well as a small Gong Cha tea counter. The other denizens in the basement are fast food outlets (I Love Yoo!, Juice Works) and casual cafes, completely empty aside from a bored employee.

Damansara City Mall, view from third floor

People might not travel far for a doctor, but they will for food (Malaysians!). The upscale restaurants here will be what pull the rest of the KL population to DC Mall. They consist of a mix of global cuisines: Dim Sum (Royal Canton), a Japanese sake bar (Kikubari), European (Soleil) and more. Almost all of these will be located on the brighter-lit upper floors. If you can’t find an escalator up, there will be one just outside the mall entrances.

All of these restaurants get pretty good reviews, but most of these are listed as closed on Sundays or only open for Sunday dinner when searched on Google. The ones that were open on Sunday afternoon were a depressing sight: giant dining rooms with rows upon rows of empty tables. A couple places have completely gone out of business, so double check before venturing out here.

The restaurant on the main floor, Birch, might as well be another anchor tenant considering how many butts it lured through the bleak mall doors. It was certainly the place to be with a full house and guests sitting on benches outside waiting to be seated or gazing longingly at the dessert cabinet. It’s easy to see why: everything from its interior to its posh brunch food inspires a picture. Enclosed in glass windows covered in plants, it’s as if you’re dining inside a greenhouse. It’s the only reliable option as well since it doesn’t have fussy operating hours. If the mall is open, Birch is open.

Restrooms

The restrooms are modest but nice enough for a place like this. They will have anywhere between three to five stalls. These are Western toilets with a squatter at the end of the row. Certain washrooms will have toilet paper in the stalls, but others will only have the communal dispenser by the hand dryer so make sure to check first. The soap dispenser is a little hidden – look for this symbol above the sink, and put your hand there to get a squirt of soap. To dry off, there is an airblade-style hand dryer.

Extras

Scenic seating (levels 1 and above)

There are a lot of seating areas scattered around Damansara City Mall that are placed out of the way and will have a scenic view of something. These are more than just “boyfriend seats” set up outside the store your wife/girlfriend spends an hour in (there’s nothing for your girlfriend to bloody shop for at this mall anyways!). Identified by the artificial grass, the purpose of these spaces seems to simply be a place for you to hang out and chill.

Damansara City Mall

On the first floor on top of a patch of fake turf is this area with armchairs and plastic slabs made to look like boulders. The view is of the street below and the art deco building across the street. We sat here for a good while, in full view of the security, and didn’t get shooed away. There will be another one of these on the second floor by the Harley’s, and I witnessed another one on the level three rooftop (go up the ramp opposite Nero Nero Cafe).

Damansara City Mall rooftop

Saturday Worthy?

Based on the desolation of this mall during prime weekend hours, the main clientele are likely the workers in the nearby buildings grabbing lunch or groceries. At 12:30pm on a Wednesday, and maybe 9pm on a Saturday, I’m sure this place is a whole different scene. If you’re here to try a specific restaurant, or you need in-vitro fertilisation, then okay. Other than that, there’s no reason for the condo residents or even regular people to hang out at this place, and without a Louis Vuitton store, what tourist from the fancy hotel next door would shop here? Most have made the quick hop over to the bigger and superior Bangsar Shopping Centre. Unless you’re forced to live or work in the Damansara City bubble, you’ll find nothing you need at Damansara City Mall.

Damansara City Mall exterior

Mall Info

Address: 6, Jalan Damanlela, Bukit Damansara, 50490, Kuala Lumpur
Daily: 8am – 10pm
Nearest MRT Station: Pusat Bandar Damansara
Stores and Floors: Approximately 55 on 5 floors
Shop Types: Food & beverage chains, restaurants, services
Anchors: Ben’s Independent Grocer
Website: http://damansaracity.com.my/home/

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